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Auto Club, Torrance Police Fight Car Theft with 'VIN Etching'

(TORRANCE, July 20, 2011) – The Automobile Club of Southern California, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the Torrance Police Dept. and California Highway Patrol Southern Division joined this week to expand car theft prevention with free vehicle window VIN etching at the Auto Club’s Torrance branch.
Window VIN etching consists of stenciling the unique federally-registered 17-digit VIN onto a vehicle’s front and rear windshields and windows. The process takes about 10 to15 minutes per vehicle to complete.  The stencil only sinks into the top layers of glass marking the windows lightly, but does not weaken the windows. The letters and numbers of the VIN were stenciled and rubbed onto the windshields and windows of car owners.
“Window VIN etching makes the vehicle far less desirable to thieves, much more difficult to be disassembled at chop shops by car thieves and the parts resold for more than the value of the car,” said the Auto Club’s Torrance Branch Manager George Burkhardt.   
If thieves change the VIN plate number on the front dashboard of a vehicle to conceal its identity, then they must change the etched windows that are stenciled with the unique vehicle number which costs money and cuts into their profit.  Un-etched windows do not pose that problem for them.
Although auto theft is declining nationwide and in Torrance due to efforts by law enforcement, it still remains the number one property crime in America.  In 2010, there were 305 vehicles stolen in the city, according to the Torrance Police Dept. and 48,849 thefts (23 percent of registered vehicles) occurred in Los Angeles County, according to the CHP.
The most frequently stolen vehicles in Torrance are: older Honda Accords and Civics, the Cadillac Escalade, and Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, according to the Torrance Police Dept.’s Community Affairs Lt. Mark Athan. Some of the vehicles are also targeted by thieves to steal third-row seats in SUVs and factory navigation systems, he added.
“Although viewed as a property crime, most suspects arrested for vehicle theft are also involved in a myriad of other criminal activities,” said CHP Southern Division Public Information Officer Brian Flick. 
“The Auto Club is pleased to work with Torrance law enforcement and the NICB to help prevent auto thefts and to help motorists protect their investment,” said the Auto Club’s Burkhardt.  “For victims, having one’s car stolen is costly, upsetting and inconvenient.”
In addition to window VIN etching, drivers received tips from the Torrance Police and CHP to help prevent their cars from being stolen.
For 2009, The Most Stolen Vehicles in the Nation:
1. 1994 Honda Accord
2. 1995 Honda Civic
3. 1991 Toyota Camry
4. 1997 Ford F-150 Pickup
5. 2004 Dodge Ram Pickup
6. 2000 Dodge Caravan
7. 1994 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)
8. 1994 Acura Integra
9.  2002 Ford Explorer
10. 2009 Toyota Corolla
Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB)
For 2009, California’s Most Stolen Vehicles:
1.   1991 Honda Accord                                                                                         
2 .   1995 Honda Civic                                                                                             
3.   1989 Toyota Camry                                                                                          
4.   1994 Acura Integra                                                                                           
5.   1994 Nissan Sentra
6.   2007 Toyota Corolla
7.   1995 Saturn SL
8.   1997 Nissan Altima
9.    1997 Ford F150 Pick Up
10. 1997 Toyota Pick Up 4 x 2                                                                              
Source:  NICB
1.  Honda Accord
2.  Honda Civic
3.  Cadillac Escalade
4.  Chevrolet Silverado
5.  Chevrolet Tahoe
*Sources: Torrance Police Dept. and Automobile Club of Southern California
CST 1016202-80 Copyright © Automobile Club of Southern California. All Rights Reserved.
The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.